Herzlich Willkommen to the German Immersion First Grade Page! My name is Desiree Weser. I was born here in Utah and have lived many places in the US and abroad including Japan/Okinawa, Germany and England, My husband is from Germany and we lived in Bavaria for just over 3 years. I have 6 children, two daughter-in-laws and 4 grandchildren. Our home is very multilingual with speakers of English, German, Czech, Ukrainian, Russian, Portuguese, 3 of my grandchildren, are also growing up bilingual (English/Czech), as there mother is Czech. They are young, but doing great.
I taught high school German for 3 years before coming to Summit Academy. This is my 5th year here at Summit Academy. If you ever visit my classroom, you will quickly see that it is a wild whirlwind. We try to accommodate different learning styles and needs, attend to conflict resolution needs, students missing their parents, and above all the success of your wonderful children. We do this all in German. We sing together, dance together, sit together, stand together, focus together (a work in progress) and learn together. I hope your children are teaching you new words, songs and correcting your pronunciation (sorry) and counting up a storm in German. If your child is not using lots of German at home, do not be distressed. This is totally normal. Novice level language learners blossom in the language with words they are familiar with and in an environment where they are used to speaking that language. The classroom/school is that environment. That will change with time, but be patient. It can be stressful for your child if you push the issue with them, especially if you try to have them share, on demand, something they have learned. Patient is the big key.
Every year we try to participate in the Christkindlmarkt across from Hogle Zoo (early December). The students learned several songs and participated in a Lantern Parade. This a very casual dress/dress warm event. They change where we sing every year, so we go with where they place us. Parents and siblings are welcome to join in the parade. We should also be participating in the Adventsingen at BYU again (also early December). This is an evening event and it is in Provo where our students come in their best attire. I promise that it will be very memorable. None of the events outside of class are mandatory--there is no grade attached to them, but we really want to immerse our students in not only language, but also culture. Last year we invited the other German classes to join us at both events and it was truly awesome. The children got to sing and dance on stage at the DeJong Concert Hall in front of about 1400 people. It is usually a rather reverent atmosphere, but after the children sing, the audiences joy and applause can sometimes not be contained. It is AWESOME. These are events, where we hope to connect our students and our families to the local Utah German community. This is important as it helps support the German community and events that they able to present (ie., the Christkindlmarkt has grown dramatically since our students and their parents have taken part in the program and attended the festivities). Participating in these events also helps our students see opportunitees to use their language skills outside of the classroom...sooo important.
German Dual Immersion is a process and we would ask you to stay in for the long haul (at a minimum until the end of 6th grade and hopefully beyond). Research shows that students who remain in the program through the end of their elementary years and beyond achieve not only equal and often greater academic success levels than their English only peers, but they attain a bilingual/ biliterate level of fluency in another language. They see themselves as successful and they view education as important. I wish that I were a miracle worker and could produce all of those levels all in First Grade, but I do my best to set them on the right path. Remember it is a path and you should consider your child as part of a minimum 6 year program. It is also very helpful if your child misses as little of class time as possible (barring illness). Please try to schedule your family breaks in conjunction with Summit's. One week of missed class time is over 15-18 hours of German instruction. I can give them math homework to catch up in math, but attached to that math is a world of language, plus our German language arts program. All learning is done through content, so it is not just math, but also German through math. We want our students to be as happy and excited about learning as they can. Parents, you are a major part of that success. Thank you for your trust and your help.